Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Italian proverbs- occhio di straniero

Today's proverb isn't terribly common but I like it. Occhio di straniero vede meglio di sparviero. The eye of a stranger/foreigner sees better than a hawk. Specifically, a sparrowhawk. They just threw in the sparrowhawk thing to make it rhyme, which is always fun with proverbs.
According to this saying, outsiders see things more clearly precisely because they are not within the system they are observing. There is a lot of truth in this. I strongly believe that being half Italian and having spent so many years, including formative years, in Italy has given me invaluable perspective on my own country, the United States. And I can also see Italy from a non-Italian viewpoint. But it is also true that an outsider's view may be distorted by ignorance, resentment, hostility, and all sorts of nastiness. All and all, some well-disposed, well-meaning, perspicacious outsiders may have a very useful contribution to make in understanding a social phenomenon.

(in the photo, a mother sparrowhawk teaching her chicks to scrutinize and criticize other species)